There's a way to add beautiful colors to your yard without revving up a gas motor and spending big bucks on fertilizers and grass seed—stop growing grass! Wildflower and moss gardens have become popular alternatives to fescue and turf for many reasons. Read on to find out why you should grow a wildflower or moss lawn.
Save Time and Effort
Once spring rolls around, many homeowners begin their regular lawn maintenance routine, and they don’t stop until the weather gets cold again. There’s fertilizing, getting the mower up and running, and the constant cutting and trimming of grass, not to mention picking weeds, and daily watering during droughts. With a wildflower or moss lawn, the majority of this labor is unnecessary, especially once it’s established. You can still get exercise and enjoy the outdoors, but instead of sweating through tiresome lawn maintenance, you can just enjoy the view.
Wild Lawns Are Cheaper
The startup and maintenance costs for a wildflower or moss lawn will depend on the size of area you want to cover, but even on a moderate sized lot they'll be lower than the standard alternative. Grass seed, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and water costs all add up. Plus there's gas for the lawnmower, and that’s if you already have one.
A batch of quality, non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free wildflower seeds costs around $20 (never steal seeds from wild meadows as this harms their self-propagation). Be wary of cheap, pre-packaged wildflower seeds as they often contain filler. A reputable garden center or nursery should be able to direct you to native species that will grow happily and benefit your specific region’s flora and fauna. Some online vendors will also have quality wildflower seeds—just ask questions about what exactly you will be getting. Many will have curated packages for your specific region to ensure healthy flowering and re-seeding every year.
For a moss lawn, you can sometimes source patches that are already growing around your home and simply transplant them. If none are available, you may need to purchase a few native varieties at a garden center or nursery. They should cost anywhere from $20-100 depending on your garden size—but remember, it’s a one-time purchase if it’s planted right. Once a moss lawn is started, it requires few ongoing costs. As with wildflowers, never steal moss from a wild area.
It’s cool to be eco-friendly these days, and for good reason! Sadly, natural wildflower meadows have been depleted over the last 100 years down to two percent of what they used to be. Planting a native wildflower lawn is a wonderful way to help nudge the world back toward proper levels. Wildflowers feed essential pollinators like bees, moths, and butterflies, as well as other insects, birds, and small animals that are vital for a healthy ecosystem. Flowers also naturally help cool the area around them, making your yard more inviting to humans and pets.
Both moss and wildflowers lawns reduce or eliminate the need for mowing (wildflowers will need to be mowed once or twice a year and moss doesn’t need to be mowed at all) which reduces greenhouse gases and fumes from gasoline. Neither need any fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides, which contain harsh chemicals and produce toxic run-off that infects waterways. A wildflower or moss lawn will have to be well-watered to get it growing, but after that it will require little to no watering in most climates, unlike a grass lawn, which needs an inch or two of water every week. Both wildflowers and moss lawns also help control erosion, filter runoff from rainwater, and reduce air pollution.
A wildflower lawn can create an exotic scene with lively colors compared to flat, monochrome grass. A moss lawn has a distinct, dense feel that can add opulent texture to your space, not to mention varying shades of vibrant green. Wildflowers and moss grow beautifully together, and can complement your existing landscape design as much as you like. Moss is an ideal choice for shady, moist areas around trees and rocks, and will flourish naturally near stones and pathways. Most wildflowers prefer partial to full sun, good airflow, and well-drained soil in order to thrive. Meet their needs, and they'll spread beauty to an otherwise desolate space.
Wildflower Lawn Tips
One perk of a wildflower lawn is that many seeds will germinate in just over a week. A fully established wildflower patch may take closer to a month, but you will see results quickly as long as conditions are right. The most important things to consider are choosing the right seeds for your region, and clearing the area of any existing grass, weeds, or invasive plants to reduce competition. You may not be able to run and play through the wildflowers as they can grow at least waist high, so consider your goals for the space. You might want to add paths or walkways to some thoughtfully placed benches or other outdoor furniture, so you can appreciate your growing paradise from multiple angles.
Moss Lawn Tips
Moss may take a little longer to establish than wildflowers, but it really depends on your growing conditions. A very important consideration is the pH level of the soil—moss prefers acidic environments, as well as consistently moist ground in an area protected from full sun. It will tolerate a moderate amount of foot-traffic, but not rigorous activity or sports. That said, many enjoy the springy feel of a moss patch underfoot when taking a stroll.
A well-manicured grass lawn can be desirable, but the reality is that most homeowners have to work extremely hard and spend a lot of money to maintain a perfect pitch. As more people seek out alternatives to grass there are myriad reasons to consider wildflowers or moss. The end result can be a beautiful, unique landscape that requires minimal maintenance. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side: it can be full of wildflowers and moss instead.